Violence In The Library

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About Josh Hanagarne

Josh Hanagarne is the author of The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family. It will be published by Gotham Books on May 2, 2013. He blogs at Please follow Josh on Twitter.


  1. Thank you for sticking up for someone, who has been weakened by abuse…Just having one person who has your back can change your worldview….

    When I told my karate teacher that I was taking his class, not because I was fascinated with martial arts, but because I was being stalked by an ex and panicking, he at first seemed shocked and looked around to see if my stalker was there in the gym ready to pounce on me or shoot me (he wasn’t BTW)…later my sensei relaxed and made jokes about it and reassured me that no one was going to hurt me if he and my karate partners were around….

    It took some weeks but eventually the fear and the hyperalert state faded and I could sleep again peacefully knowing that other men believed me and supported me and would fight to protect me if needed….

    I suppose even the littlest bullies need someone even smaller than them to boss around to feel powerful….Thanks for your story…

    • John Anderson says:

      “It took some weeks but eventually the fear and the hyperalert state faded and I could sleep again peacefully knowing that other men believed me and supported me and would fight to protect me if needed….”

      There are more guys out there like that than you think. We just don’t get the press. When I met by sister in laws cousin’s boyfriend. I had this strong urge to tear his windpipe from his throat. It was the first time I ever felt that way when I just met someone. My mom would tell me that he never took his eyes off me when we were in the same room so I guess the feeling was mutual.

      My 3 year old niece was deathly afraid of him too. When he was around she would look for me not her dad like she usually did when she was scared. It’s like she knew we were natural enemies. He put two bullets in my sister in laws cousin’s head. He was so pathetic that he needed a gun. At her funeral, all I could think of when I looked into her casket was I’m sorry I should have ripped his windpipe out when I had the chance.

      Surviving the abuse shows just how strong you are. It’s not just the people in your dojo who believe in you. There’s at least one other right here.

  2. You’re welcome Leia. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  3. Drew Bowling says:

    Curious, why do you describe her as a “broken” woman?

  4. Thomas Matlack says:

    Josh its awesome to have you here telling it like it is. This piece reminded me a little of my friend Julio who was a drug load before going to Sing Sing. When he came out the biggest of the bigs came by to tell him it was time to back in the game. And he would not be moved. You might get something out of the story:

  5. It breaks my heart that their son chose to live with his father.

    • It may have been that the father had already got to the kid. Lots of time the abuser teaches the kids that this is how you “handle” a woman.

      Once when I was working on a hotline a woman told me that if she did leave her mother would tell her husband where she was again. So I told her that she didn’t have to tell her mother the truth if it endangered her life and it did! I encouraged her to leave and make friends with some truckers. Get them to bring her postcards and mail the post cards from different parts of the country. Let her husband go charging off to the wrong part of the country. Unfortunately, that was before Facebook. It makes people easier to find. Especially if they don’t realize how vunerable it can make them!

  6. John Anderson says:

    “He taught me to work, to respect women, to strive, and to stand up for people who can’t or won’t do it for themselves.”

    That sounded so familiar. Before we were accepted into the dojang, we had to promise to respect our classmates, respect women, and defend women and the weak. You showed a lot of restraint. Did it help that you were in your workplace? Would you have reacted the same way if you met him on the street?

    We were taught to walk away from confrontation when we could. I admit that there was a time when I hunted and beat some of the people who had bullied me. I haven’t been in a fight in about 25 years, but some guys just make you want to come out of retirement.

    • John, that’s a good question. I’m not sure, but I doubt I would have handled it as well if he confronted me while we were out and about.

      My biggest fear in a situation like that would be that in dealing with him, I’d make her situation even worse. In the moment, I’m not sure, though. I’ve got a temper like everyone else, and I can certainly be provoked into unwise actions.

  7. Bravo josh!

    For respect, restraint and for revealing the clenched jaw of humanity in face of inhumanity.

    Always, hoongyee

  8. Josh I think your restraint not only took a huge amount of strength but a huge amount of intelligence. It was a thoughtful response instead of emotional, maybe you taught him a little something …

  9. Valter Viglietti says:

    Josh, awesome piece.

    I have just a little nitpicking: ““Men who hurt women should be put down”.
    It sounds like women who hurt men aren’t much of an issue. Aren’t they?

    I understand there’s a significant physical difference between the genders, but – IMO – violence is violence, regardless who’s the victim. Stating that some violence is worse than other, sounds like some violence can be tolerated.
    I know it wasn’t your intent, but your sentence is still sexist. And sexism is often the very basis violence on women is (or was) based on (“women are inferior”, “women are stupid”, “women are weak”…).

    That’s why I shudder every time I hear something sexist (be it pro or against a gender).
    Because I think that any sexism (even the well-meant ones) sustains the problem; it divides; it fuels a mentality of we-against-them.

    But, aside from this, I enjoyed your article very much, and I honestly admire your stance.

  10. Josh hanagarne says:

    Good point Valter. I will state unequivocally that for me, not all violence is equal. For instance, to me, an adult abusing a child is flat out obscene. That’s worse, in my opinion, than one adult hurting another. But it’s all awful, of course.

    Thanks for the comment.

    • Valter Viglietti says:

      “to me, an adult abusing a child is flat out obscene”

      I agree on this. Of course, some events feel worse than others.
      But, setting children apart, considering individuals in different ways is – somehow – defining them in “class A” and “class B” citizens; IMHO, this doesn’t help, and it’s actually discrimination.

      Of course, though, you (and everybody else) have the right to favour whoever you prefer. ;)


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